It is impossible to separate vegetables from seasonality — especially at the height of summer — but you can be liberated from the anxiety of cooking certain vegetables at specific times of the year. Eat seasonally if you can, but don’t stress if you can’t. There are enough causes of angst in the world; finding vegetables should not be one of them.
Vegetables are inherently more flexible and adaptable than people think, and the more you cook with them, the more you experiment and explore, the more multifaceted they become.
These recipes are built on the hardworking, dependable vegetables we turn to most in daily cooking — the everyday produce that’s accessible, versatile, adaptable and practical. With our busy lives, these qualities are always paramount. These recipes came about through the real-life predicament of needing to cook dinner, with produce unearthed from the fridge and a few select, hard-hitting pantry items.
For vegetarian recipes like these, the presence of umami, or “deliciousness” as it roughly translates to from Japanese, is paramount. It is a flavor high, that note of savoriness that keeps us coming back for the next bite. Umami is ultimately the difference between a dish that is good and one that is delicious — and these are undoubtedly delicious.
Often, vegetables are treated with excessive delicacy, or simply overlooked on the plate. These dishes showcase how readily they star in hearty yet fresh vegetarian meals.
Recipe: Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips With Fried Chickpeas and Avocado
Kale chips team up with fried chickpeas, avocado and a frizzled egg for a delightfully crunchy and creamy brunch or dinner.
Recipe: Soy-Butter Corn Ramen
A nod to wafu pasta dishes, which fuse Japanese and Italian cooking traditions, this simple one-pot noodle meal employs the sweetness of summer corn to balance the umami of the butter and soy sauce.
Recipe: Crispy Potato Tacos
Stuffed with potato and cheese, these tacos de papa include the potato skins in the filling to add a nice texture and make these a deeply satisfying meal.
Recipe: Cashew Celery
In this vegan stir-fry, celery delivers a gratifying crisp-tender crunch, while cashews add a creamy nuttiness and tofu provides substance.
This article is excerpted from “Tenderheart: A Cookbook About Vegetables and Unbreakable Family Bonds,” by Hetty Lui McKinnon (Alfred A. Knopf, 2023).
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